For the Week starting: 1.18.2007

"For a kingdom any oath can be broken."
Shakespeare’s King Henry VI, part iii [I.ii.19]

We’re still buried under a sheet of ice, but I predict sunny and frolic-like in the immediate future. Texas weather is funny like that.

aquAquarius: I was running through the morning extraction process for coffee, here. I’ve experimented, and I’ll continue to do so, I’m sure, with various coffee beans, various grinds, and left over from last month? Some cheap "coffee in a can," which is not my style, but on the cold winter mornings, anything will do.

I was thinking that I had a highly scientific method of making coffee, but all in all, it seems pretty crude. More of guess and guess again process. It’s less about extraction and more about mixing and hoping something good comes out. But then, there are times, when the best results are obtained from the least planning, sort of a shot in the dark.

I was watching as the hot water was forced through the beans and then the magic elixir appeared with a foamy head, which, oddly enough, is reminiscent of Guinness Ale. Brewing coffee is an art, getting the perfect process wherein the right amount of flavor and active ingredients can get delivered to the target. Consider my arcane methods of making coffee, and then think about that morning cup, looking at the coffee itself as it drips, percolates, or gets pressurized and steamed, and consider the process itself that makes the chemical goodness happen. This next few days, yea, verily, the next 30 days, has been much anticipated in Aquarius land. Happy birthday. Go slow. There is much goodness that abounds, but understanding the secrets? Just know that you know the process, and by following your process, you can achieve desired results.


pisPisces: My desk’s chair, where I spend an inordinate amount of time, situated in front of a computer’s screen, is a plain, hardwood chair. Not stylish, not comfortable. Certainly serviceable, though. I’ve added one part to the existing framework of the chair that’s made all the difference. It’s a seat cushion. Bought it at the outlet mall. Cheap. Like me. Took three or four tries to get a two-dollar cushion that fit my copious backside just right, but once I did, I’ve been happy. What this is all about?

Searching, seeking — and finding — a good alternative method of dealing with the hard knocks, kicking around in Pisces. This could turn into a terribly complicated method of trying to fit a solution to the Pisces problem of the day, but then, most small problems are just larger problems trying to escape. Instead of buying a high-tech, high-dollar chair that I’ll eventually break, I opted for a cheap one that seems to last longer. But the hard wood seat needed something a little more receptive, hence the cushion. Odd how that works out, too, to protect me from the hard and uncomfortable seat, a simple cushion, picked up for cheap, made all the difference. Find a cheap cushion for yourself.

ariAries: As Mars shifts signs, New Years’ resolutions begin to crumble. Which, given the way an Aries will typically handle a problem, redouble the Aries resolve. Mars moves on towards the center of Capricorn, in a slow and inexorable pace, as time marches forward. And Mars makes for some uncomfortable energy. Not bad energy, just an uptight situation wherein Aries — or someone else — is getting all knitted up in a problem.

The problem with the Mars-inspired problem is that the typical problem-resolution methods don’t apply. The usual methods of getting a bigger hammer and hitting the problem a little harder don’t seem to work. Mars? Yeah, blame Mars if you must, but the difficulties arise more from the solution and resolution, rather than from the source of the discomfiture in the first place.

It’s an old trick I’ve used from time to time, but it bears repeating and reminding the Aries corner to drop what isn’t working. That problem, probably Mars-inspired, will be back. It can hold. Work on a completely different item. Drop the one problem, as I’m sure you’ve got plenty to deal with, and in doing so? You’re free to tackle the one problem when a better solution presents itself.

tauTaurus: It was a comment from a Taurus, and that Taurus was seeing a new feller, "It’s not like he’s really my type, I mean, I don’t have a type, really, but he doesn’t have anything pierced. No tattoos, either. Definitely not my type, but he does play in a band…." And that was the connection that I was looking for because I’m sure that the "play in a band" part was requisite, as in, she liked guys who were just a bit different. Artistic. Poetic. A bit extreme in one form — or another.

That’s where the Taurus appeal is at this moment, in the extremes. While there’s something to be said for boring, as in, I have a boring life, and I like it just fine, me with my monkish ways, but the Taurus life is due for a jolt of excitement. I’m not saying that you’re going to drop everything for a boy in a band, or that a tattooed (and probably pierced) individual will become a central focus of your Taurus life, but I’d look for a shot of "out-of-the-ordinary" as the immediate route. Which might upset the delicate Taurus sensibilities, but that’s not the problem. Out-of-the-ordinary can lead to out-of-body experiences, and that can be quite good, a definite plus in the Taurus circle.

gemGemini: Best of Beethoven. Beethoven’s greatest hits. Classical music for idiots: Beethoven’s best. Finally, Beethoven’s Symphonies 1 – 9. I think that covers everything that I’ve got here. It was a random sampling of some of the music I’ve listened to. Some of that classical was the "box set edition," a special on sale someplace. Some of it was given to me. I doubt I bought any at full retail price, though. I was thinking about Gemini and the symphony set shifted from #4 to #5. I was just listening to the music as background, less listening, and more as filler to cover the ambient trailer park noise.

Maybe a third of the way through the 5th, some rather familiar — to me, anyway — strains came through. I cranked it up and rocked out to classical music. I wasn’t sure what the number was, or what the music was, or any of the details, not until I started poking around in the CD set. I was lulled into a sense of well-being and then the recorded orchestra (London Symphony, I think) let loose with a familiar strains. Invigorating. Made me nod my head in time, in as much as I can nod my head in time.

I can’t tell an allegro from a con queso in classical music. Not my area of expertise, but as that one symphony got rocking and rolling, I realized that it was the same with Gemini. It’s like a musical notation that slips in under the door, sideways, or in some other stealth manner. As some planets slip on into Aquarius, life is getting ramped up, and again, like that music, just background noise, it starts to make you move. Not where you’re looking for inspiration, but it does happen along. It’s like that slow march of music, you don’t hear it until it’s suddenly here. Now.

canCancer: I would assume that just about everyone is familiar with what a tackle box looks like. Usually, it’s hinged box, around a foot long, and there’s a tray that cantilevers outward, with slots for various and arcane bits and bobs that us fisherman use. I’ve got several. One, I use just for coastal fishing gear, saltwater material, mostly spoons and live-bait hooks. There are several others, too, and the point of all this is about how I manage my resources. Could be as simple as fishing gear — equipment, bits and pieces of material that I use about 300 days out of the year.

Might be something else, though, for my fine Cancer friends. I’m not sure that you’re situated in place wherein you get to spend as much time on the water as I do. But this isn’t about time on the water, it’s more about how I handle, or better ye, how you handle, all that material that supports what you do while you’re out on the water. It’s about managing and marshalling the resources in an effective and productive manner. That’s where the tackle box comes into play. It’s about what you’ve got, where it is, how you can grab the essential item that you need, right out of the box, without having to dig around and get poked by stray hooks and lures. I’m not sure how you keep it all together, and my example is pretty straightforward, a different tackle box for different situation, but with Aquarius, the kick off new moon, and everything else happening? It’s all about how you manage what you’ve got.

leoLeo: Sometimes, it’s the tiniest of clues that hold the biggest news. A waiter was serving us some late lunch, middle of the afternoon. Good as time as any, the place was about half vacant, and that server’s attitude was a little more relaxed.

After a few trips to the table for water, drinks, and the order, I asked what his birthday was. Leo, the mightiest of signs. The best fixed fire sign, ever. And the one sign that’s having a little spot of trouble with a few stupid customers.

I’m not sure it’s the customers, but there is a tiny irritation. What was interesting to me, that waiter, he had on an itty-bitty charm of some kind, on a necklace. It was a lion’s head, tiniest one I’ve ever seen. If I’d looked the charm first, I would’ve noticed and suggested Leo, without asking. But I missed the smallest of clues. Unlike me, you can spot the smallest of symbols and understand the meaning. It’s about clues, and occasionally, those clues are nearly invisible because the visual display is so diminutive. Tiny, even. But that’s where you’ll find the clues so you don’t have to look the fool, like me.

virVirgo: I was once contracted to build a database kind of a thing for a client. It was to display a certain amount of information in such a way and it needed to be accessible. Pretty standard search features, all that normal stuff that goes into a geek project. Only, as a geek, I tended to add features, bells and whistles until the project blossomed out of control. In the end, I had to cut back my "feature set," and I had to reduce the software’s "footprint" because I’d created a monster, which, while it was easy for me to navigate, even useful, I couldn’t put it in the hands of users.

I succumbed to not listening to my own advice, and I built something that was out-of-control. What the client wanted was a simple screwdriver, and what I delivered the first time was more like a very expensive and highly functional, but ultimately useless Swiss Army pocketknife with scissors, tweezers, magnifying class, and one of those little things that you stick in a computer’s slot on the side.

Too much stuff. Cool, arguably functional and useful, but still. Too much stuff. At first, I was irked that I had to dumb down my masterpiece, but then as I got to paring away the features and bells, I realized what I had done, in my monster creation. Too much stuff. Careful, as this next week? You’ll find, if you’re not careful, that you keep trying to add too much stuff.

libLibra: I’ve got this little problem wherein I get hung up in one movie, or a song, or similar situation, and I can’t shake the song or the scene from my head. It follows me around all afternoon, the snippets from the scene, or the bits and piece of the musical tracks, or parts of a conversation, especially a staged conversation, and then, I’m stuck with this. It’s like that one song? Repeated over and over until you’re sick to death of it, and yet, you still can’t get it out of your head? It wasn’t a song, either, it was part of a recorded conversation, on the screen, first in a movie, then later, I owned the tape, and finally, the DVD of the same movie.

That’s three times over the movie maker has made a buck or two off of me, so someone was getting their money’s worth. Been months since I last watched that DVD. Still, portions of the script, as mouthed by the actors, kept running through my head, all morning long. I’m not going to repeat it, and I’m sure there’s a technical explanation about what this syndrome is called. Or perhaps there’s a deeper, underlying psychological explanation. Or maybe, I’m just one guy who’s not right in the head. But it’s that repetition that keeps haunting the Libra corner of the sky. A lyric, a musical lick, a theme song, maybe just a portion of dialogue, rehearsed, over and over. It’s there for a reason and while it might be personally annoying to the Libra, there’s a fine point wherein it’s also amusing. Smirk. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

scoScorpio: My affection for what is called "Vietnamese Cuisine" started many years ago, when I was living in an apartment situated close to a number of Asian places, a Chinese grocery, a Japanese place, and of course, the place that advertised as Vietnamese. The fare I like is usually a bowl of broth of some kind, I guess, with chunks of stuff floating in it along with a big ball of noodles. Served on the side is a small plate with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil, I think. I’m not sure. Might be Coriander, or who knows what? I’m guessing again, but the fresh condiments, I suppose are dumped into the broth, seasoning it to individual flavor. Peppers, too. Usually some fresh jalapenos as well.

Makes a hearty meal for winter’s afternoon. The true purpose of the condiments has never been explained to me. I could be the weird white guy who does strange things to his soup. Or, it could be that I’m doing it all correctly. I might never know. Frankly, I don’t care, as I enjoy the food my way. The fresh cilantro and basil adds a touch, since the herbs are still green when they go in my bowl. It’s just a little touch, but it’s one that I’ve found can be important. Mars is shifting gears. Signs, really. Mars is tied to Scorpio. It’s a subtle shift, but pay attention. Might not hit you just right, but it’s a lot like those fresh herbs in the soup, it’s a subtle change. Use the change, delight in the shifting gears. Or, if that analogy doesn’t work? Then be like me and don’t worry about fixing the food the right way, just fix the soup so you like it.

sagSagittarius: I saw an ad for some other fishing guide, "No Fish, No Pay, No Kidding." That had to be one of the most effective ads I’ve seen. I thought about incorporating a similar line, perhaps tailored a little bit, as my own. But there’s a problem, too, as I’ve spent less and less time fishing, and more time working.

Not that it’s a happy place, but there it is. Consider, the interpretation of "no fish, no pay," that could left wide open. As a Sagittarius, I tend to be "results-oriented," just as a way of seeing the world. Results count. But even no results are sometimes good results, depends on who is asking the question, and what that question is. As a Jupiter moves forward on its trip around the sun, Sagittarius is feeling the effects. However, Mars exits Sagittarius. Where’s this all going to leave us? Results. Folks look to us for results, and there are some situations that are clearly beyond our Sagittarius control.

capCapricorn: Preparation is the key. Clue. One of those. Being properly prepared paves the way for smooth transitions. I was looking at video frames, the raw timeline and clips for a short "film," all stored on a computer. The point of the film was less about the subject and more about how the film, I’m guessing it was like a music video, and more about how the pieces were strung together to make the movie. It was a showcase for some expensive and powerful editing software.

The way the clips were strung together told a story, sort of. But when the video was played, there was a jarring quality to the clips as they slammed into one another. Which might’ve been the point, I’m not sure. There wasn’t any kind of a transition between the short segments. I’m assuming, as there was an audio portion, that the music somehow reflected the transition points, when one frame would become another.

Stylistically, I’m sure there was a point to the lack of smooth transitions. But stylistically, in Capricorn, there needs to be better transitions. Smoother, easier to watch, not so glaring in the effect. So the key is the preparations. How you prepare for what’s coming up, what with Mars in your sign, I’d suggest that there’s going to be some glaringly obvious transition points that need to be smoothed over. Whether you do this with software or hardware, or just with better planning, I’m unsure. But proper planning for Mars will help.

About the author: Born and raised in a small town in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel spent years honing his craft in trailer park in South Austin. He hates writing about himself in third person. More at

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